Long Island, Bahamas – Long Islanders are answering the government’s call to produce more food.
And Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) is to provide them with additional fresh plantain and banana stock.
Also a new road, north of the Gray’s community, is being pushed to groves of rich virgin silver top palms used by Bahamians for specialty handcraft weaving.
Agriculture and Marine Resources Minister Lawrence S ‘Larry’ Cartwright is the Member of Parliament for Long Island and the Ragged Islands.
He hosted BAIC executive chairman Edison M Key and senior executives last weekend. The team included general manager Benjamin Rahming, assistant general manager (agriculture) Arnold Dorsett, and secretary to the BAIC board Vernita Rodenwalt.
Mr Cartwright said he was pleased that many of his young constituents have expressed a keen interest in agricultural pursuits.
“From the outset, my main emphasis has been on getting the young people involved,” he said. “Quite a number have shown an interest.
“Because they are young and have no financial backing, they need assistance. We are working to try and find that assistance for them.
“In the meantime, through BAIC, we are trying to get some seedlings for them and help them with land preparation. Once we can get them going and they start to harvest, they will be on their own.”
Already greenhouse techniques have been introduced at Long Island’s primary and secondary schools.
“We are focusing on protected farming,” he said. “Through systems like shade houses and greenhouses, production can be extended all year.”
He noted that there is a demand for Long Island products on the national market.
“Historically, Family Island farmers produced for the Nassau and Freeport markets,” he said. “Right now, the majority of bananas grown in Long Island are shipped to New Providence.”
Mr Key has confirmed that BAIC is to establish an office in Long Island, headed by a Domestic Investment Officer.
Adequate office space is being leased to accommodate agricultural, industrial and handicraft pursuits, he said.
“Here in Long Island I have seen some of the best plantain and banana groves I have seen anywhere in The Bahamas,” he said.
“There is a lot of stock in here and I think BAIC along with the Ministry of Agriculture can do a lot to improve the agriculture sector and bring Long Island into production again. Long Island has tremendous potential.
“The Minister (Mr Cartwright) is very pleased with our visit. He indicated that we can work together and accomplish a lot for his people.”
In his meetings with farmers, Mr Key was told that land preparation was a major concern.
“The soil here is rocky,” he noted, “but we can bring in a machine to pulverize the soil and make it fine to work in up to fifteen inches deep.
“We are going to see how best we could facilitate land preparation and give them all the assistance possible. We can do it through the Corporation and the Ministry.”